Helping Someone - Who Is Depressed
Depressed people can be very difficult to be around, and yet they need more than the usual understanding and support from their friends and family.
The anger and lack of trust that a depressed person may have for people close to him or her is very disturbing to someone who is trying to help. At such times, the sincerity of a friend is questioned when the depressed person doesn't feel worthy of someone's friendship. Withdrawal from others, even when very lonely, can make it nearly impossible to encourage a depressed person to enter into activities that may help pull him or her out of the depression.
It is frequently difficult for a depressed person to carry on a conversation. Attempts to help may be met with defensiveness and verbal attacks. Frequently questioning him or her about the condition may be met with crying and frustration, simply because the person may not know what is wrong. Reassurance is important, although it can become a drain on the encouragers.
While being supportive and understanding, the friend must be careful not to do things that fulfill any unreasonable or unrealistic needs on the part of the depressed person. There is a very thin line between being supportive and being overly protective. Too much concern can feed an unrealistic demand for attention. Performing too many tasks for someone who "just can't seem to get things done" can bring about great dependency and also guilt over being indebted to someone else.
You can best help a friend or relative who is depressed by considering the following points:
To Find Help
For more information, please visit the Depression Center.
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
(Source: Center for Disease Control, Clemson Extension)
Last Editorial Review: 8/14/2002